Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

Jon Elliott

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OSHA launches National Emphasis Program to address workplace heat hazards

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, May 24, 2022

On April 8, 2022, the US federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) established a National Emphasis Program (NEP) to focus enforcement resources on “Outdoor and Indoor Heat-Related Hazards.” The NEP is OSHA’s latest step to manage and reduce heat illness in workplaces. Earlier actions include “Inspection Guidance for Heat-Related Hazards” on September 1, 2021 (I wrote about it HERE), and an “advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM)” on these topics issued on October 27, 2021 (which I wrote about HERE). The remainder of this note summarizes the NEP.

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Tags: OSHA, workplace safety, Heat Wave, Heat

Biden Administration reverses Trump Administration revisions to Federal Environmental Impact Assessment rules

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, May 09, 2022

The federal Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has revised its regulations administering the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969. NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions, and incorporate this information into their decisions. Government-wide guidance is provided by the White House’s CEQ, established by NEPA and appointed by the President. CEQ issues formal regulations that agencies must follow, and guidance documents that provide additional advice. CEQ also reviews agencies’ NEPA implementation programs, and publishes annual national Environmental Quality Reports.

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Tags: Environment, Climate, NEPA, CEQ

EPA proposes new bans on asbestos-containing products

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, May 02, 2022

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed to ban a number of longstanding uses of chrysotile asbestos, using expanded authority provided as part of amendments adopted to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in 2016. This proposal is EPA’s latest step to apply its expanded authority to review and restrict uses of asbestos, renewing agency efforts from the 1980s that were blocked by litigation.

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Tags: EPA, Environment, Climate, asbestos

EPA proposes to require worst case release planning by onshore facilities

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, Apr 25, 2022

On March 28, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed regulations requiring “non-transportation-related onshore facilities” to prepare response plans covering possible releases of hazardous substances, and submit those plans to EPA. This proposal implements longstanding but unused EPA authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The remainder of this note discusses the proposal.

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Tags: EPA, climate change, Environment, Climate

Biden Administration again proposes to expand EPA’s budget significantly

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, Apr 18, 2022

On March 28, the Biden Administration issued its budget proposal for federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 (October 1, 2022 through September 30, 2023). The administration proposes a $11.9 billion budget for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a 29% ($2.6 billion) increase above EPA’s adopted 2022 budget of $9.6 billion – similar to the administration’s FY 2022 proposal of $11.2 billion (which I wrote about HERE), which Congress cut considerably.

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Tags: EPA, climate change, Environment, Climate

OSHA proposes to revise Injury and Illness reporting requirements

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, Apr 11, 2022

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires most employers with 10 or more employees at an “establishment” to prepare and maintain records of occupational injuries and illnesses (I&I) as they occur (I&I Logs). OSHA also requires employers to post an annual I&I Summary in each workplace “establishment” by February 1, summarizing that workplace’s I&Is during the previous calendar year. In addition, beginning in 2017 OSHA requires some employers to submit some of this I&I information electronically to the agency. (I wrote about the initial electronic reporting requirements HERE). On March 30 OSHA proposed to update and revise these electronic reporting requirements, which the remainder of this note summarizes.

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Tags: Health & Safety, OSHA

SEC proposes climate-related disclosure requirements for public companies

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, Apr 04, 2022

When must organizations evaluate and disclose how climate change will affect their operations?

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) administers reporting requirements for companies listed on national securities exchanges (“listed companies” or “public companies”), under federal securities laws including the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Some of the SEC’s requirements provide detailed specifications, such as financial reporting consistent with Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP). Others are less quantified, requiring reporting of information that might be “material” to investors’ evaluation of a public company. Over time, SEC has added topics subject to reporting of material information, and some of these generalized requirements have evolved into more specific ones. In the latest example of this evolution, in March 2022 SEC is proposing regulatory requirements for disclosures about “climate-related risks and metrics” by public companies, enhancing and standardizing existing agency guidance (I’ve written about these several times over the years, most recently HERE). The remainder of this note summarizes SEC’s proposal.

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Tags: climate change, Environment, Climate

Ontario Court of Appeal Punishes Directors For Breaching Fiduciary Duties

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, Mar 28, 2022

In December, the Ontario Court of Appeal reviewed a case involving two disputing factions in a 5-member partnership (Extreme Venture Partners Fund I LP v. Varma).1  The two partners who managed the activities decided that their efforts were being undervalued by the other 3, and responded by starting competing businesses, diverting resources from the original entity, and hiding these activities. The other 3 partners eventually found out and sued them for breaches of their fiduciary duties. The trial court found against the wrongdoers, and on appeal the Court of Appeal actually increased their punishment.

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Tags: Labour & Employment, Canada, Directors Liability, Ontario Court

California adopts Statewide Microplastics Strategy

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, Mar 21, 2022

Discharges of plastics into the environment are steadily increasing, both in aggregate amounts and in associated environmental and health concerns. The United Nations has estimated that plastic debris accounts for at least 85 percent of total marine waste; an estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans annually, and on current trends this will triple by 2040. In response to these concerns, the state of California is creating laws and regulations intended to reduce plastics discharges in the state. In addition to plastics recycling requirements (the state “bottle bill” and others), California has created a focus on “microplastics.” In February 2022, the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) adopted a new Statewide Microplastics Strategy (the Strategy); the rest of this note provides general background on California’s approaches to plastics and microplastics, and summarizes the Strategy.

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Tags: California, Environment, plastics, microplastics

California Injury and Illness Prevention Program requirements

Posted by Jon Elliott on Mon, Mar 14, 2022

Although the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) only recommends that employers create comprehensive safety and health programs, California and a handful of other states require employers to do so. (I wrote about OSHA’s latest recommendations HERE). The remainder of this note summarizes California’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) requirements, which are administered by the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH; known universally as Cal/OSHA).

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Tags: Health & Safety, OSHA, Safety and Health at Work, workplace safety, California, Healthcare